updated 01:20 pm EDT, Thu April 29, 2010
Keys could illuminate on demand
Some recent Apple patent applications, made public this week, show continuing interest in evolving how the company's products are controlled. Particularly notable is a concept involving "invisible" buttons, so called because they are flush and built with the same material as their surrounding surface. An example of this is thought to be found in the Magic Mouse, although the patent suggests technology that does not require capacitive input to be touch-sensitive.
To make buttons visible as necessary, however, Apple suggests dotting them with "micro-perforations," which could be rely on backlighting to display various symbols. A modified MacBook, for instance, could have dedicated media playback controls, styled like the clickwheel on an iPod classic. The buttons might light up only when a DVD is inserted into a computer, or music is playing in iTunes. Keyboards, trackpads and other devices could use a similar scheme, although backlights might also be triggered by heat, sound, taps, ambient lighting or motion sensors.
Apple is not ignoring multi-touch technology though, as another application depicts a variety of alternate gestures. These are identified as "spread-hand" movements, assigned to less common commands because they require deliberate thought. Unusually the gestures are also Mac-centric, for example letting users jump to the desktop by twisting four fingers. Apple is rumored to be developing a touchscreen Mac.
[via Patently Apple]